Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The "Foxidation" of MSM News

Question: What do you say to someone who thinks "the sky is falling"?
Answer: Nothing. They will go away soon because their sky IS falling.

William Raspberry has an interesting column on the impact that Fox News Channel is having on the MSM news. Raspberry comes out swinging in the first three paragraphs:
The in-your-face right-wing partisanship that marks Fox News Channel's news broadcasts is having two dangerous effects.

The first is that the popularity of the approach -- Fox is clobbering its direct competition (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.) -- leads other cable broadcasters to mimic it, which in turn debases the quality of the news available to that segment of the TV audience.

The second, far more dangerous, effect is that it threatens to destroy public confidence in all news.
Raspberry then presents the meat of the argument contending that Fox News is contributing to the "dumbing down" of all news programs and that this trend will reduce the confidence people have in "legitimate" news organizations.

On Poliblogger, Dr. Steven Taylor looks at the column in a post titled "Not With a Fox" (Nice allusion to Dr. Seuss, Dr. Taylor especially considering that "Green Eggs and Ham" is about someone unwilling to try something new because it looks different!). Dr. Taylor points to the problems with Raspberry's analysis methodology:
"However, as with most critics of FNC, it seems that he is comparing apples to oranges (although it unclear as to what he is comparing, as he gives no specifics) insofar as much of Fox’s programs are commentary programs, not straight news (which is also true of MSNBC, for that matter–and it isn’t as if CNN is pure news)."
While neither author presents anything earth shattering, I find it amusing that neither acknowledges the simple market forces at work. More people are watching Fox News because they find that it fills a niche not filled anywhere else, which is the definition of a market force. Your friendly ignited drake watches Fox News (though the thought of relying on a "fox" always gives me the willies!) because it provides commentary (not news) that is more in line with my own views. As to the news aspect of the channel, regardless of what Raspberry thinks, the news is "Fair and Balanced" unlike the MSM becasue it actually presents the conservative side. That's refreshing and I don't find myself furiously quacking at the TV like I do with some other channels. It also tends to continue reporting on the stories that interest me, like the Oil for Food scandal, that drop too quickly off of the MSM radar.

So Fox News will continue to be the official news channel of The Flaming Duck. On occasion, I will watch both CNN and MSNBC, but it's mostly for the entertainment value. I mean who can really take them seriously! And with that I give a big raspberry to William Raspberry. >@